Dohiyi Mir
    In Which NTodd Says His Peace

Sunday, February 29, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

God Is On Our Side

Thankfully we don't get CBS, so I couldn't watch today's Dem debate. Through the magic of the blogosphere (n! iwust!) I learned that Elizabeth Bumiller of the NYTimes asked this insightful question at the end of the debate:

Really fast, on a Sunday morning, President Bush has said that freedom and fear have always been at war, and God is not neutral between them. He's made quite clear in his speeches that he feels God is on America's side.

Really quick, is God on America's side?

Kerry fumbled a bit, but Edwards really knocked it out of the park with a reference to a story about Abraham Lincoln:

Well, there's a wonderful story about Abraham Lincoln during the middle of the Civil War bringing in a group of leaders, and at the end of the meeting one of the leaders said, "Mr. President, can we pray, can we please join in prayer that God is on our side?" And Abraham Lincoln's response was, "I won't join you in that prayer, but I'll join you in a prayer that we're on God's side."*

Besides being a ridiculous fucking question, it's rather presumptuous to assume god is on our side. Even Reagan acknowledged that (perhaps with Lincoln in mind) in the 1984 SOTU:

I recognize we must be cautious in claiming that God is on our side, but I think it's all right to keep asking if we're on His side.

Public displays of god-fearin' always bring to mind Matthew 6:5:

[W]hen you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men.

What's more, I'm reminded that many bad guys have proclaimed god was on their side. For example:

God is on our side, and Satan is on the side of the United--American administration. So can Satan or the devil win over God?

That's right, Saddam Hussein said that. And who could forget this classic?

What we are we have become not against, but with, the will of Providence. And so long as we are true and honourable and of good courage in fight, so long as we believe in our great work and do not capitulate, we shall continue to enjoy in the future the blessing of Providence.

Nothing like a little inspirational speech from Adolf Hitler to give us some perspective (I'm allowed to bring him up since Godwin's Law has been suspended).

I would satirize such public declarations of divine alliances, but Mark Twain already did:

O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells...For our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet!

We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts.



* I've seen the quotation written thusly: "My concern is not whether God is on our side; my great concern is to be on God's side." 


President Bush reacts when told about his latest poll numbers.


US Commitment To Democracy

I've been avoiding the Haiti issue because I really don't have a lot of information about what's really happening. Seems that President Aristide, who has been democractically elected twice and now overthrown twice, is getting a raw deal, though he reportedly has run a pretty corrupt government.

I can sorta understand some of the logic behind France and the US encouraging him to step down, so the Supreme Court Chief Justice could take over in a constitutional manner, rather than the rebels installing an illegal government. But really, is forcing a legitimately elected leader from power in the best interests of democracy? What guarantees can we expect when Boniface Alexandre is in charge? Will the rebels really stop?

It seems to me that the folks pushing the issue will likely continue their rebellion no matter what. They aren't the most democratically-oriented people:

They are men like Louis-Jodel Chamblain and Jean-Pierre Baptiste — two leaders of Fraph, the Haitian Front for Advancement and Progress. Fraph was an instrument of terror wielded by the military junta that overthrew Haiti's embattled president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in 1991. It killed thousands over the next three years.

Mr. Chamblain, a former Haitian Army officer, was sentenced in absentia to life in prison for the 1993 murder of Antoine Izméry, an important Aristide supporter. Before the trial, he fled to the neighboring Dominican Republic, returning to Haiti in recent months to seek power.

Mr. Baptiste, also known as Jean Tatoune, was serving a life sentence for murder, in connection with a 1994 massacre of Aristide supporters, when he was freed in a jailbreak in August.

Is the message we really want to send to the world that if you're violent enough, we'll help you push your leaders out of power? First we hang Hugo Chavez in Venezuela out to dry, and now Aristide. It seems our commitment to democracy is wanting. Should I hold my breath about our little experiment in Iraq?


Fight Bigotry

Natalie Davis over at All Facts and Opinions needs our help:

The fight is on. I am calling on you and everyone you know to stand up for making justice for all a reality in the US. Please follow this link and take action to demand an end to the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment (aka Unequal Rights Amendment) and a beginning for marriage equality.

My goal is to recruit 1000 people to the Million for Marriage effort. Please join us.

(via The Liberal Coalition)

I took action this morning. One suggestion: use the letter proposed by the advocacy site as a guide, and edit it to contain your own words to increase the odds that your members of Congress will pay more attention to the message.

Let's go people!


Saturday, February 28, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

Old School


Subject: Moral right and politics
To: John Kerry and John Edwards
cc: James Monroe

Political interest can never be separated in the long run from moral right.

Thomas Jefferson

PS--Good luck on the gay marriage thing.


Sorta Cat And Dog Blogging

(via my wife)

Slight variation in our household: Saffron the Senior Cat certainly does sleep all day; Cairo the Senior Dog does as well; it's Sam the Action Kitten* that does the "watcha doin'" pestering of both elder animals.


* A reminder: while faithful reader Diane's possibly charismatic husband inspired Sam's moniker, Poison Kitchen's Patrick Taylor gets credit for the nickname. 

Now I Get It

Orson Scott Card shares his vast legal experience:

In the first place, no law in any state in the United States now or ever has forbidden homosexuals to marry. The law has never asked that a man prove his heterosexuality in order to marry a woman, or a woman hers in order to marry a man.

Any homosexual man who can persuade a woman to take him as her husband can avail himself of all the rights of husbandhood under the law. And, in fact, many homosexual men have done precisely that, without any legal prejudice at all.

Ditto with lesbian women. Many have married men and borne children. And while a fair number of such marriages in recent years have ended in divorce, there are many that have not.

So it is a flat lie to say that homosexuals are deprived of any civil right pertaining to marriage. To get those civil rights, all homosexuals have to do is find someone of the opposite sex willing to join them in marriage.

Thanks for clearing that up.


Ooh, Pretty!

While Jupiter has always been the planet that sparks my imagination the most, Saturn is a close second. I've seen its rings with my telescope, but never quite as clearly as this shot by Cassini...


Friday, February 27, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

Neener. Neener. Neener.


The California Supreme Court declined a request by the state attorney general Friday to immediately shut down San Francisco's gay weddings and nullify the nearly 3,500 marriages already performed.

A set back for the bad guys, but it ain't over yet:

Regardless of the Friday order, the San Francisco-based court did not indicate whether it would decide the issue. The seven justices usually are reluctant to decide cases until they work their way up through the lower courts, which this case has not.

So lots left to do. Keep the faith.


Maybe I SHOULD Vote For Bush

Here's the e-mail I just got from Ken Mehlman, Bush's campaign manager:

Dear Ntodd,

Americans will face a clear choice in the upcoming presidential election.

President Bush has a record of historic achievement and a positive vision for the years ahead - for winning the war against terror, extending peace and freedom throughout our world, and creating jobs and opportunity here at home.

John Kerry has a record of raising taxes, cutting defense spending, and plans for new regulations and more litigation that would make America less safe and send our nation back to the tired, failed policies of the past.

Kerry has repeatedly voted to cut funding for defense and intelligence, voted to cancel the very weapons systems that are winning the war on terror and maintaining our military strength, and he has voted against common-sense tax relief like the marriage penalty and the death tax.

As President Bush has said, "On issue after issue, the American people have a clear choice" in this election.

He makes a really compelling case. If only Ken had spelled my name right--otherwise, I probably would've voted for Bush.

(aka NTodd) 

Thursday, February 26, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

It Was Only A Matter Of Time

The Onion:

Justices of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled 5-2 Monday in favor of full, equal, and mandatory gay marriages for all citizens. The order nullifies all pre-existing heterosexual marriages and lays the groundwork for the 2.4 million compulsory same-sex marriages that will take place in the state by May 15.

Okay, so similar jokes have been floating aroud the blogosphere for a while. Still made me laugh.


Sexual Mores and the Bible

Allen Brill has a wonderful post up at The Right Christians about how sexual standards have evolved vis the Bible:

The truth is that Christian ideas about sexuality and marriage have not been frozen in time. They have evolved, been debated and changed throughout the past 2,000 years. Most of us would recognize that many of these changes have been for the good. Who would want to return to the days when women and children were considered the property of the male head of household who could offer them up to a mob or marry them off to a rapist? What is divine about a legal code that punishes women with death for adultery but allows men to sleep with prostitutes without any sanction?

[The Christian Right is] not mistaken, however, when they point out the importance of sexuality and marriage to the well-being of our society. The forces of modernization have done much to undermine family stability and hamper the nurturing of children. We should all be alarmed at statistics that show rising rates of divorce and child poverty. But if the welfare of society and Christ's directive to be concerned for the least among us are the real concerns, all Christians should be uniting around efforts to support our nation's families rather than enacting a Constitutional amendment aimed at discriminating against gays and lesbians.

As usual, Allen's look at biblical issues is scholarly and insightful. Go read the whole thing.

(via Body and Soul)


Disappearing The Dead

It's no surprise that "collateral damage" in our current wars has been obscured by the fog of war, "coalition" spin and outright lies. Some folks have taken an in-depth look at the issue. The Project on Defense Alternatives recently produced a very interesting report about the DoD's efforts to ignore casualties and shape our discourse. The conclusion:

The efforts were antithetical both to well-informed public debate and to sensible policy-making. The casualty issue was not alone in suffering such treatment during the prologue to the Iraq war. Distortion and miscalculation infected the official discourse on many of the key issues surrounding the war, including: the magnitude and immediacy of the threat, the likely financial cost of the war, the troop requirement, and the difficulty and expense of post-war reconstruction and stabilization efforts.
It would be encouraging to conclude that the tendency to "disappear the dead" resides in the handling of just one war or one set of wars. If this were so, it might be easily excised. However, several of the problematic concepts and "news frames" examined in this report predate both the Iraq and Afghan conflicts. The problem resides, more than anywhere else, in the confident belief that the United States has discovered a new way of fighting wars that is virtually bloodless -- a belief that seems immune to the fact that these "new wars" (beginning in 1991) have claimed the lives of approximately 50,000 people (of which 10,000 were non-combatants). Excising this conceit may prove difficult because it pertains to the utility of America's post-Cold War military predominance. Nonetheless, until America's opinion leaders disabuse themselves of this notion, the nation will be brought to war easily, but left unprepared for and perplexed by the consequences that follow.

I remember in my pre-blogging days I argued with some folks on a politics mailing list about incidents at the Al Shaab and Al-Nasr markets in Iraq that killed upwards of 100 civilians. Some folks were buying the US/UK claims that the people were killed not by "coalition" weapons, but by defective Iraqi air defenses. I scoffed at the notion, provided reasons why the official story was wholly unlikely, and eventually the bogus claims were shown to be false (and any admission buried on page A17 of US papers). Regardless, the disinformation campaign was successful and support for the war remained high.

And while the media now seems to be more interested Rosie's impending nuptials than continuing casualties, I do think that the campaign to hide the true cost of Bush's various wars is starting to bite him. As usual, it's not any one thing that is making people look at Bush skeptically, but when you consider things like not including war costs in his latest budget, the missing WMD, and all the other "little" things we've seen lately, the public is indeed beginning to get a clue.

It's too late for the 650 dead "coalition" soldiers and 10,000 dead Iraqi civilians, but maybe soon enough for us to revive honest debate and alter our path in November. The truth will out.


You Want To 'mend The Constitution?

How about this amendment:

SECTION 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

SECTION 2. Reproductive rights for women under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State.

Well you know, we all want to change the world...



Rook took my bishop with his pawn, ruining all my plans. Oh wait, there was method to my madness...


Wednesday, February 25, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

The Kerry Cascade

Interesting article in Slate subtitled "How a '50s psychology experiment can explain the Democratic primaries":

Princeton social psychologist Solomon Asch showed a room of participants a series of slides displaying sets of vertical lines. Two of these lines were clearly the same length, while the others were obviously very different. The subjects were then given the seemingly trivial task of identifying which pair of lines were the same. But there was a trick: Everyone in the room except for one person had been instructed beforehand to give the same incorrect answer. The real subject of the experiment was the lone unwitting participant, and the real test was of an individual's ability to disagree with his or her peers.

Asch demonstrated a stunning effect: Faced with a decision that, in isolation, no one would ever get wrong, the unwitting subjects went against the evidence of their own eyes about one-third of the time.
When everyone is looking to someone else for an opinion—trying, for example, to pick the Democratic candidate they think everyone else will pick—it's possible that whatever information other people might have gets lost, and instead we get a cascade of imitation that, like a stampeding herd, can start for no apparent reason and subsequently go in any direction with equal likelihood.
Asch's unwitting subjects—clear victims of manipulation—when interviewed afterwards gave other rationalizations for their decisions, some of them succumbing to what Asch called a "distortion of perception" in which they perceived the majority as being correct.

In fact, the distortion of perception that Asch observed is a special case of what psychologists call "hindsight bias," the failure to notice how our opinions change as new information becomes available.
[T]he combination of cascades and hindsight bias renders much of what passes for "obvious" in this election campaign deeply misleading. Because the cascade is effectively driven by a small minority of voters, the result is more or less arbitrary—Dean really could be winning just as easily as Kerry. But once we know the answer, hindsight bias kicks in and makes the arbitrariness of the cascade (seem to) go away. Everything pundits are saying about Dean now could just as easily be used (and would have been used) to "explain" a Dean victory. Had that happened instead, we would all be walking around saying, "Well, of course Kerry lost—he's got all the charisma of a dead horse—and that Dean is a real firebrand." In each of these "parallel worlds," Dean and Kerry are exactly the same (more or less), and voters are (more or less) exactly the same as well. In terms of the inputs, the difference between the two worlds could be a coin toss.

That's what I hate about sudden death overtime in football: a mere coin toss can determine the outcome.


[Update: I was reading a post by Mary over at Pacific Views called Whose Echo Chamber?, which starts off with a comment about the typical 'Hey, everyone knew what Bush was like, so why are you surprised?' attitude. In light of the Slate article, and at the risk of seeing everything as a nail to hit my with my new Asch-built hammer, I wonder if "hindsight bias" applies here.

Did everybody really know how bad Bush was going to be? I recall watching one of the 2000 debates (when Gore "sighed") with Stef and a friend of hers from Oz, and we all couldn't believe Bush would ever convince anybody to vote for him. I'm pretty sure we knew he'd be bad news, but I certainly tried to give him the benefit of the doubt when he took office, and honestly never imagined he would end up being the worst president ever. But when people say "why are you surprised", aren't they really surprised?

I also wonder if the "social decision-making" mentioned in the article is germane wrt WMD and the Iraq invasion. Did people like Powell go along with Rummy and gang for the same reasons test subjects choose the wrong pairs of lines in the Asch experiments? And is that the same as "group think"?

Anyway, I'm just musing in my flu-induced stupor.]

Who Said It?

The Constitution is no place for forcing social policy on states, especially in this case.


Tuesday, February 24, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

Kerry On The Anti-Gay Amendment

The Kerry Blog:

I believe President Bush is wrong. All Americans should be concerned when a President who is in political trouble tries to tamper with the Constitution of the United States at the start of his reelection campaign.

This President can't talk about jobs. He can't talk about health care. He can't talk about a foreign policy, which has driven away allies and weakened the United States, so he is looking for a wedge issue to divide the American people.


Call Me Homer

Not a gay marriage post, but news: I left the house for the first time since I got home on Friday!

When I'm sick I get bored, and also get weird cravings. I've desperately wanted some glazed donuts since last night, when Stef admonished me not to go get any. Stef had to go into town this afternoon, and since she wasn't here to counterbalance my craving, I ran out to the General Store to buy junk food, including donuts. I also replenished our chicken noodle soup supply, so I'll be on the road to recovery in no time...


Declaration Of War

I wonder if Pat Buchanan will get to dust off his '92 GOP convention speech:

My friends, this election is about much more than who gets what. It is about who we are. It is about what we believe. It is about what we stand for as Americans. There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we will one day be as was the Cold War itself.

Everything old is new again. No wonder I still feel sick.


A Very Clear Choice

Remarks by the George Bush to the Republican Governors Association last night:

Come November, the voters are going to have a very clear choice...The American people will decide between two visions of government...

The GOP vision:

Our vision:

Which is scarier?


Sully On The Anti-Gay Amendment

By way of David E's Fablog:

WAR IS DECLARED: The president launched a war today against the civil rights of gay citizens and their families. And just as importantly, he launched a war to defile the most sacred document in the land. Rather than allow the contentious and difficult issue of equal marriage rights to be fought over in the states, rather than let politics and the law take their course, rather than keep the Constitution out of the culture wars, this president wants to drag the very founding document into his re-election campaign. He is proposing to remove civil rights from one group of American citizens - and do so in the Constitution itself. The message could not be plainer: these citizens do not fully belong in America. Their relationships must be stigmatized in the very Constitution itself.

'bout time Andy woke up and smelled the bigoted coffee.


Bush On The Anti-Gay Amendment

Just read it and weep:

The amendment process has addressed many serious matters of national concern. And the preservation of marriage rises to this level of national importance.



Publius Redux

Alexander Hamilton on the right to marry1 in Federalist 84:

Why...should it be said that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed? I will not contend that such a provision would confer a regulating power; but it is evident that it would furnish, to men disposed to usurp, a plausible pretense for claiming that power. They might urge with a semblance of reason, that the Constitution ought not to be charged with the absurdity of providing against the abuse of an authority which was not given, and that the provision against restraining the liberty of the press afforded a clear implication, that a power to prescribe proper regulations concerning it was intended to be vested in the national government. This may serve as a specimen of the numerous handles which would be given to the doctrine of constructive powers, by the indulgence of an injudicious zeal for bills of rights.
What is the liberty of the press? Who can give it any definition which would not leave the utmost latitude for evasion? I hold it to be impracticable; and from this I infer, that its security, whatever fine declarations may be inserted in any constitution respecting it, must altogether depend on public opinion, and on the general spirit of the people and of the government. And here, after all, as is intimated upon another occasion, must we seek for the only solid basis of all our rights.

I bring up this passage because it has always struck me as one of the most important constitutional concepts. Our founding document (which I ofttimes affectionately and lazily call the Big C) is a "prudent" document, if I might borrow from information security. That means our Constitution denies the government the right to do anything, except for specific powers enumerated in the various articles. In other words, anything not explicitly deemed to be in the demesne of the government is something denied to the government, and reserved as a right for the People (and/or the Several States).

That's a much better approach to defining government (or a security policy) than being "permissive"; that is to say, that the government can do anything it wants except for X, Y, and Z2. That would make it much easier for a government to overstep its bounds, and much harder for people to regulate said government. Inherently, then, the Big C is a prudent security blueprint that limits what the government can do, all with the intent of protecting us from unwarranted intrusions into our lives.

And that was the point Hamilton (aka Publius) was making, specifically about the concern many people had that the proposed constitution lacked a bill of rights. His concern was that if you take the approach that you must spell out the rights of the People, you open the door for abuse even if you aren't really allowing government to regulate said rights. In my mind this also means you've just taken a step toward implying that if a right is not defined, it is either not important or worse, doesn't exist.

So I look at the current brouhaha over gay marriage. Some people in various venues have claimed there is no right to marry. I disagree strongly. The right to love and join someone in a meaningful union is self-evident, natural, and clearly something that is protected by the Big C because the government was not granted the right to regulate marriage3. Having the government in the business of defining this institution is an overstep of grievous proportions.

Of course, this is why the President and his bigoted partners in crime must resort to amending our Constitution. Once they define marriage in this way, then any considerations of Amendment I, or Amendment XIV or a Hamiltonian view are moot. The government will thereby be granted the power to regulate what marriage is and to whom it applies.

As most of you are aware, the last time we did such tinkering at the behest of moralizers was in 1919 with the adoption of Amendment XVIII--that was repealed in 1933 by Amendment XXI. At least Prohibition was not something aimed at only a particular segment of our population. As I alluded to below, when we adopted the Constitution we only counted (black) slaves as three-fifths of a (white) free person for purposes of apportionment. I find it appalling that we here in the 21st century are now going to repeat the 18th century travesty of reducing some of our people to less than full members of society.

This is why an amendment must be fought at all costs4, and I demand that the Democratic candidates stop dancing around the gay marriage issue. It is time for them to stand on principle and defend a fundamental civil and human right. It is also time for them to defend our founding document from tinkering and from being fundamentally altered in its purpose, for an amendment prohibiting gay marriage5 will change the Constitution from one that places limits on the powers of government to one that restricts the rights of the people.


1 - Okay, I lied. Sorry, but I needed a hook.

2 - The analogy I use in class is a parent trying to regulate a child's behavior. If you tell your child not to draw on the wall with crayon, they could view that as license to draw on the wall with a marker.

3 - In addition to my Hamiltonian perspective wrt to our right to marry, I note that Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights explicitly asserts that marriage is a right, though it is sufficiently vague on what "marriage" is.

4 - Of course it's not easy to amend the Big C, and clearly this is more crass, cynical political pandering on Bush's part, but if we don't stand against this, it could still happen.

5 - One proposal is S. J. RES. 26, which reads: Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the Constitution of any State, nor State or Federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.

[Update: I corrected a few items, and reorganized the footnotes.] 

Bush Comes Out Of The Closet


President Bush on Wednesday will back a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in an attempt to halt same-sex unions like the thousands that have been allowed this month in San Francisco, the White House announced Wednesday [sic].

Nothing like codifying bigotry into our founding document once again. Maybe they'll also revive the notion that some people should only count as three-fifths for purpose of the census/apportionment.


Monday, February 23, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

I Believe The Children Are Our Future

Which is why it's a good thing that we have terrorists preparing our children for jobs in manufacturing.



My last words on He Who Shall Be Ignored come from none other than Howard Dean:

Those who truly want America's leaders to stand up to the corporate special interests and build a better country for working people should recognize that, in 2004, a vote for Ralph Nader is, plain and simple, a vote to re-elect George W. Bush. I hope that Ralph Nader will withdraw his candidacy in the best interests of the country we hope to become.

While the Green Party annoyed me in 2000, I don't blame Nader voters for our current mess. Everybody has a right to vote their conscience, and I think Dems who still get angry with the voters really need to remember what a democracy is all about. But those same voters need to recognize that every vote taken away from the Dems this year does help Bush (Rook's theories aside), and there are times when you do need to consider voting strategically. Now that we know exactly how dangerous Bush is, can we please keep our eyes on the prize?

Okay, no more on HWSBI, unless he comes to his senses.


[Update: fixed some typos and made a couple other minor edits.] 

States' Rights

Only when convenient:

The Bush administration has rejected a plan by Michigan and Vermont to jointly negotiate lower prescription drug prices from pharmaceutical companies, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm said Monday.

The two states were the first to pool their resources for buying drugs under the state-federal Medicaid program providing health care to the poor. Michigan has said the pool purchases would save the state millions of dollars. Other states, including New Hampshire, were considering joining.

Granholm, a Democrat, said she was told late Friday that the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services was rejecting the program as a violation of federal procurement procedures.

How nice that BushCo respects the rights of the Several States to be creative in delivering better services to their people. Lemme guess, "federal procurement procedures" dictate you have to buy at the price set by Bush's Big Pharma buddies. Is it any wonder his Medicare bill is going to cost more than the administration admitted?


[Update: As Lambert says over at corrente: "$5 into your front pocket, $10 out of your back pocket...." And if corrente had implemented Trackback, I would ping the post!] 

Blogging Forecast

Oy. I don't seem to be getting any better, but I have to have to have to do a conference call today with a customer unless by some miracle it gets postponed. Fortunately I can do that from home. The rest of the day is sick time. I'll probably still blog a little later today because there's only so much napping and Dune: The Machine Crusade I can take.


[Update: 30 minutes into the call we decided to postpone it until Weds due to some glitches. I guess that's good. But I have some other work to do on my sick day. Hopefully it won't take long. I need a nap.] 

Sunday, February 22, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

Trackback Feature

Now enabled after some prodding by Rook. If it's good enough for Atrios and Steve Bates [Update: and upyernoz, and Charles2 and Elayne Riggs], it's good enough for me. And now I gotta go to bed: my head is about to explode.


Words Of Wisdom

(ersatz cat blogging courtesy of David & Goliath, from an e-card my wife sent me this evening)


PS--I recalled there was a bit of a stink about the t-shirts produced by D&G (e.g., "Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them"). Here's one person's take on the ruckus:

Will you please shut up and get a life, already? Critics targeting anti-boy T-shirts must have something better to do than take political correctness to new depths of inanity.


Damn It, Scotty, I Need More Power!

Despite my altered state, I've made my next Bloggers Chess move.


PS--A couple of my other contributors, Kenneth Quinnell and Jay Bullock, have been writing a bunch of stuff for the OSP Knowledge section. You should check out their latest work. 


From the Illinois Historical Digitization Projects' notes on the Lincoln-Douglass debates of 1858:

The Lincoln-Douglas debates created an almost unparalleled furore throughout the whole country. In Illinois the debates were attended by immense crowds, many of the people coming for miles to listen patiently to three hour speeches. The eye of the nation focused on the State of Illinois, which was divided into opposing halves, the northern section against the southern section for slavery.

Each orator endeavored to force the other into admissions which would ruin his chances for Senatorship in these antagonistic sections of Illinois. In the second debate Lincoln put questions to Douglas that if answered to please northern Illinois must offend the South. Lincoln's friends warned him that he would lose the Senatorship if he so questioned his rival, to which he replied: "Gentlemen, I am killing large game; if Douglas answers he can never be President and the battle of 1860 is worth a hundred of this."*

The format was thus: one person spoke for 1 hour, the other spoke for 1.5 hours in reply, then the first speaker got another 30 minutes of "rejoinder". Quite a contrast to today's debates!

And I use the term 'debate' loosely when referring to the silly displays of campaign soundbitism we are accustomed to these days. Would that we could hear something other than prepackaged drivel crammed into 30 or 90 second chunks. Alas, thoughtful discourse seems to have gone the way of the Do-Do.

After class last week, while I was chilling a bit before dinner, I caught Alan Keyes on C-SPAN. Far be it from me to agree with a winger such as he, but I've always found Keyes to be articulate and fundamentally right about a number of things, including his take on debates:

The major party candidates can openly hold exclusionary and stilted pseudo-debates if they want to, but to do so under the rubric of nonpartisanship is an unacceptable lie that gravely damages our democracy.

With He Who Shall Be Ignored (HWSBI) now in the race, I'm sure the debate over debates will revive.

As we have seen with the circuses we call debates during the Democratic primary season, having too many candidates up on stage doesn't provide for meaningful exchanges, nor a chance to really learn what a person stands for. We certainly don't want every crackpot who has delusions of grandeur to be afforded an opportunity to stand on the soapbox just because they've declared they're running for President. However, limiting the affiars leading up to the general election to the two major parties' nominees seems to be anathema to democracy.

What to do, then? I was thinking that if a candidate has the organization and wherewithal to get enough signatures to put them on the ballot in an appreciable number of states--maybe 3, or maybe the equivalent of 5% of the total votes in the Electoral College--then they should be able to participate. If HWSBI or the Green Party candidate or Joe Schlobotnik can get their act together, I would like to see some diversity in choices presented to the voters (despite my desire to see nobody mess up our chances to defeat Bush this year).

And what of the format? Clearly today's MTV-addled audiences wouldn't stand for a Lincoln-Douglass style of long-winded speechifying, but could we cover issues in a more meaningful way than we've seen of late? What about covering a subject for 5 minutes, with an 8 minute rebuttal, and a 3 minute follow-up? I wonder if Bush could go on for that long--without repeat "September the 11th, 2001" a hundred times, that is.


* Fascinating to hear how strategic Lincoln was in his approach to the debates. And really interesting to think of how slavery shaped campaigns back then in light of the gay marriage issue and its impact on today's race. 

It's All So Clear

Der Gropenator enlightens us on MTP:

In San Francisco it is license for marriage between blacks and whites. Maybe the next thing is another city that hands out licenses for assault weapons and someone else hands out licenses for selling drugs, I mean you can't do that.

In my town we're already debating whether we should allow boiling babies and strangling kittens. I tell you, once local governments start disobeying anti-miscegenation laws, all hell will break loose.


As If I Weren't Sick Enough

I saw this on Nader's site:

Why Ralph is running

Statement will be released at 10:00 a.m. EST on February 23, 2004
Live at Press Conference; Watch CSPAN-2.

I'm already sick, so I won't be watching the statement. His campaign manager has this to say on the front page:

Now that Ralph has decided to run, we are no longer taking a referendum on the question of whether he should. If you encouraged him, we hope you will now help by getting him on the ballot, contributing to the campaign and volunteering at the local level. If you discouraged him and disagree with his decision, don‘t support or vote for him. But please keep an open mind and have the courtesy to recognize that others would like to have the opportunity for more choices and voices in the electoral process to move this country forward. And that is exactly what this campaign will be all about.

Ordinarily I would agree that we need more choices and voices, but let's get one thing straight: this year there's not a dime's worth of difference between Nader and Bush. They both will do whatever they can to make sure Bush gets 4 more years to destroy our country.


[Update: speaking of being sick, Lambert over at corrente reminds us of the etymology of 'ralph'. Heh.] 

Saturday, February 21, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

Shorter George Bush

Today's radio address: 9/11...Iraq...remember when I had when I was saying all sorts of inspirational stuff into that megaphone on top of the WTC rubble? Yeah, that was great.


Ow'd You Become King, Then?

Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

Sir Bedevere: ...and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped.
King Arthur: This new learning amazes me, Sir Bedevere. Explain again how sheep's bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes.

Sounds like an exchange you might hear in the Bush administration:

Today, more than 60 leading scientists—including Nobel laureates, leading medical experts, former federal agency directors and university chairs and presidents—issued a statement calling for regulatory and legislative action to restore scientific integrity to federal policymaking. According to the scientists, the Bush administration has, among other abuses, suppressed and distorted scientific analysis from federal agencies, and taken actions that have undermined the quality of scientific advisory panels.

"Across a broad range of issues, the administration has undermined the quality of the scientific advisory system and the morale of the government’s outstanding scientific personnel," said Dr. Kurt Gottfried, emeritus professor of physics at Cornell University and Chairman of the Union of Concerned Scientists. "Whether the issue is lead paint, clean air or climate change, this behavior has serious consequences for all Americans."

I can't wait until we have a real President who appreciates facts, not fanciful musings and faith-based governance. There appears to be hope...


Queer Marriage A Threat To Civil Order

Der Governator wants to terminate gay marriages in SFO:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger intervened Friday in the controversy over gay marriage, asking the state attorney general to take legal steps to stop San Francisco from issuing wedding licenses to same-sex couples.
The governor said the city's granting of marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples presents "an imminent risk to civil order" and warned that "thousands of people appear to be seeking the same unlawful certification as each day passes."

Yes, I understand it's the "rule of law" Ahnold is talking about on the surface, but really we all know that the GOP really fears a breakdown of society if gays can get married. All the noise about obeying the law is just the fig leaf the bigots hide behind.

Regardless, hasn't anybody heard of civil disobedience? Fundamental civil rights are at stake. San Francisco is refusing to observe the legal and moral travesty that is Prop 22. This is no more a threat to civil order than a sit-in at a Whites Only lunch counter, and just as necessary.


Democracy In Iraq

Not. CNN:

The top U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq has said Iraqi elections might not take place for another year to 15 months because of "technical problems."

Paul Bremer was speaking after the White House Friday acknowledged a point U.S. officials have conceded privately -- the administration's plan to use a caucus-style procedure to choose an interim Iraqi government has been shelved. However, it remains firm on the June 30 handover date.

"Iraq has no election law, it has no national commission to even establish a national law governing political parties, it has no voters' lists, it has not had a credible, reliable census for almost 20 years, there are no constituent boundaries to decide where elections would take place," Bremer told Dubai-based Al Arabiya satellite network.

"However, rigged Diebold machines are ready to ship right now," Bremer added.



DM crossed the 40,000 visit threshold at 514AM with a visitor from the Netherlands. I think I know who it is, but I'll let them crow about their honor if they want. Thanks, everybody!


Friday, February 20, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

Queers, Queers Everywhere!

Damned activist judges, always trying to give gays special rights:

A San Francisco county judge has combined three cases concerning whether the city's issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples is legal.

The judge did not issue an injunction to stop the marriages.
As the legal dispute continues, so do the ceremonies at City Hall. City workers ushered 100 more same-sex couples into the rotunda while hundreds of other couples awaited their turns in a line that circled the building.

Besides, only perverted weirdos would want to get married. Our civilization is clearly doomed, just as Dr. Venkman said:

Dr. Peter Venkman: This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
Mayor: What do you mean, "biblical?"
Dr. Raymond Stantz: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath-of-God type stuff. Fire and brimstone coming down from the sky. Rivers and seas boiling.
Dr. Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness. Earthquakes, volcanoes...
Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together - mass hysteria.

Run for the hills!


[Update: BBWW tells us that Chicago is also queer. And Atrios informs us that New Mexico and New York are going all gay as well.] 

Put Your Money To Good Use

Got some spare change? I've got two great ideas:

* Donate to the DNC via my ePatriots page. Let's boot Bush!

* Buy me stuff off my Amazon Wish List (now conveniently located in the right nav along with my Fox Lawsuit donations jar).

Ask yourself this question: why the hell not?


Pepsi Generation

I bought a Pepsi at a Shell station in Marlboro, MA. I won a free iTunes download, so I got Outkast's She Lives in My Lap:

She stays alone, never sheds a single tear
She stays in the coolest moods, clearly woman of the year
She and all her girlfriends, they go out dressed to win
She comes back to the cooler side of town
but she lives in my lap

And I came by my winning bottle cap honestly, not like some people.


Blurry Animal Blogging

Well, I'm home. I'm guessing my head cold is not why these pics are blurry, but whatever.

Sam thinks I brought my laptop case home just so he can play in the front pocket. And he has the gall to stick his tongue out at me.

Cairo digs into her new squeaker toy. I'm afraid it doesn't have long to live.

I'm going to watch LA Story and drill a hole in my head to relieve the pressure.


Feel The Love

My friend must persist:

Received: from mail pickup service by with Microsoft SMTPSVC;
Thu, 19 Feb 2004 20:28:23 -0800
Received: from by with HTTP;
Fri, 20 Feb 2004 04:28:23 GMT
X-Originating-IP: []
From: "vk ratliff" []
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2004 22:28:23 -0600
Mime-Version: 1.0
Message-ID: []


Guess he has nothing better to do. I love you, too.


Wednesday, February 18, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

Howard "Caesar" Dean

Lambert at corrente does a great Mark Antony. (via BBWW)


Random Thoughts

The Dean campaign came up at a break during class today. 3 of my students knew all about The Scream, at least the media portrayal of it, and only 1 knew The Truth about the media manipulation of his post-Iowa speech. Damn the press.

Of course I am troubled by Edwards' support of Iraq, which is why I ultimately couldn't support him as my first choice in the Dem race. However, I like his overall message much better than I like Kerry's, and see him as my next logical choice. I'd really rather have Kucinich but I am a realist.

I still can't accept Kerry yet. And really, why should I? He still only has around 600 of 2600 delegates needed for the nomination? I refuse to succumb to the inevitability thing. And I honestly am troubled by his dreadful explanations of his votes for BushCo policies, his dirty pool, and his lack of passion. Yesyesyes, I'll vote for him if he's the nominee, but I deserve to raise my voice for a better choice in November.

I'm so very glad Howard Dean reframed the political debate in this country, forced the Dems to grow spines and take on Bush, and reinvigorated the Democratic Party. Probably not enough to ever make me a Dem, but no matter who emerges from the convention this summer, Dean will have made him a better candidate, not to mention a better Dem, a better President, and a better person.

Question to Dean supporters who have not gotten to vote yet: are you still going to vote for Howie?


PS--Donate to the DNC, damn it. 

Thank You, Howard

Howard Dean today:

I am no longer actively pursuing the presidency. We will, however, continue to build a new organization, using our enormous grassroots network, to continue the effort to transform the Democratic Party and to change our country. And I...


And speaking to all of you and all of the hundreds of thousands of people around America who are going to get this word, either by the establishment media...


... or the Internet, I have some things that I specifically want to ask of our supporters.

First, keep active in the primary. Sending delegates to the convention only continues to energize our party. Fight on in the caucuses. We are on the ballots. Use your network to send progressive delegates to the convention in Boston. We are not going away. We are staying together, unified -- all of us.


Secondly, Dean for America will be converted into a new grassroots organization. We need everybody to stay involved. We are -- as we always have -- going to look at what you had to say about which directions we ought to be going in, and what we ought to continue to do together.

We are determined to keep this entire organization as vibrant as it has been through this campaign. There are a lot of ways to make change. We are leaving one track, but we are going on another track that will take back America for ordinary people again.


Third, there have been a lot of people who have decided to run for office locally as a result of this campaign.

We want to encourage you out there in the grassroots effort, run for office, support candidates like you who run for office, and we will use this enormous organization to support you as you run so we will change the face of democracy so that it represents ordinary Americans once again; government that will not be bought and sold.


Let me be clear, I will not run as an independent or third party candidate and I urge my supporters not to be tempted to support any effort by another candidate.

The bottom line is that we must beat George W. Bush in November whatever it takes.

Class act all the way. Let's keep the faith. Remember: you still have the power...



Wow, given the last Zogby poll, I thought Dean would hold on to second place and maybe pick up a little ground against Kerry. I s'pose he's done now that he finished third, but it's great to see my second choice, Edwards, put some pressure on Kerry. Let's not allow him to run away with it just yet!



Here's some e-mail I received today:

Received: from mail pickup service by with Microsoft SMTPSVC;
Tue, 17 Feb 2004 18:22:55 -0800
Received: from by with HTTP;
Wed, 18 Feb 2004 02:22:55 GMT
X-Originating-IP: []
X-Originating-Email: []
From: "russ russ"
Subject: Five dollars for how weird.
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2004 20:22:55 -0600
Message-ID: []
X-OriginalArrivalTime: 18 Feb 2004 02:22:55.0400 (UTC) FILETIME=[1E1C3280:01C3F5C6]

your predictions R soooooooooooooooooooooooooo good. dean 4 preznit --
gives me turkee. asshole.

I was wondering when my banned troll would send me an e-mail. Well, Cherry Baby (aka Russ Russ), I appreciate your continued readership. I will note, however, that should I receive more abusive e-mail, I will report it to your provider.


Tuesday, February 17, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

It Was An Honor To Be Nominated

Not surprisingly, DM didn't win the 2003 Koufax Award for Best New Blog. Check out all the worthy winners at Wampum. And thanks to everybody who supported this blog in the various stages of the award process. It means a lot.


Monday, February 16, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.


Kerry will win tomorrow. Dean will come in a respectable second despite the continued negative press. People will call for him to drop out, even though he's placed higher than Edwards yet again, and has more delegates.

And that will make Hulk mad.


Blessed Are The Rich

It's a fundamental debate going on in this country. It's pretty clear where I stand. I stand with the people in this debate. I want them to have more of their own money. - George Bush today in Tampa, FL.

And screw the 8 million poor bastards without a job that earns them any money.


Busy Busy

No time to blog right now. I'm just one step ahead of the law...


Sunday, February 15, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

Under Pressure

I think Freddy and David said it best:

Pressure pushing down on me
Pressing down on you no man ask for
Under pressure
This is our last dance
This is ourselves under pressure
Under pressure pressure

And Rook responds to my Queen's pressure in our Bloggers Chess match.


Winning The War One Pancake At A Time

Larry David on serving in the Reserve during Vietnam:

I couldn't be happier that President Bush has stood up for having served in the National Guard, because I can finally put an end to all those who questioned my motives for enlisting in the Army Reserve at the height of the Vietnam War. I can't tell you how many people thought I had signed up just to avoid going to Vietnam. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Even though the National Guard and Army Reserve see combat today, it rankles me that people assume it was some kind of waltz in the park back then. If only. Once a month, for an entire weekend — I'm talking eight hours Saturday and Sunday — we would meet in a dank, cold airplane hangar. The temperature in that hangar would sometimes get down to 40 degrees, and very often I had to put on long underwear, which was so restrictive I suffered from an acute vascular disorder for days afterward.

Our captain was a strict disciplinarian who wouldn't think twice about not letting us wear sneakers or breaking up a poker game if he was in ill humor. Once, they took us into the woods and dropped us off with nothing but compasses and our wits. One wrong move and I could've wound up on Queens Boulevard. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to find my way out of there and back to the hangar. Some of my buddies did not fare as well and had to call their parents to come and get them.

Then in the summer we would go away to camp for two weeks. It felt more like three. I wondered if I'd ever see my parakeet again. We slept on cots and ate in the International House of Pancakes. I learned the first night that IHOP's not the place to order fish. When the two weeks were up, I came home a changed man.

Perhaps this will curb the Left's enthusiasm for going after Bush on the AWOL issue...


Warm Cat For A Cold Morning

For some reason, Sam tends to find the most uncomfortable looking places and positions in which to sit.

A year ago this week, Stef and I were in Mexico for a belated honeymoon. When we left it was -26F--Cancun was a nice +84F. Not much different here, or down there today...


Saturday, February 14, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

Proof Of The Bandwagon

Back in January, just before Iowa, Dean won the DC primary 43-34 over Sharpton. Now come the binding caucuses:

Sixteen delegates were up for grabs in the Democratic stronghold of D.C.

Kerry claimed more than double the number of votes of the second-place finisher in D.C., New York civil rights activist Sharpton.

Kerry got 47 percent of the vote, and Sharpton 20 percent. Dean was close behind with 18 percent, followed by Edwards with 10 percent and Kucinich with 3 percent.

Yeah, there's no bandwagon effect. To quote Dr. Henry Jones, Jr: "Fools! Bureaucratic fools...They don't know what they've got there."


Speaking Of Why I'm Not A Democrat

Please tell me what I read at Atrios isn't true:

Officially, the Kerry campaign pledges to bring the party together and to move past such gloating. But some establishment Democrats, both inside and outside the Kerry campaign, still intend to punish the Dean heretics. And, while well-known politicians, such as Gore, Harkin, and Moseley Braun, may endure the most public abuse, the people who may ultimately suffer explicit retribution for their Dean-boosting are cogs in the Democratic machine--people like Daalder, who toil in think tanks or union leadership or groups like the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). As one former high-ranking Clinton administration official puts it, "Will they work again in this town again? I hope not."

If true, then after November I will work my ass off to punish the Democratic establishment. If bluster, then it is at best ill-timed...



So I took the plunge and joined the DNC's ePatriots. Please note the Boot Bush button in the right nav, below my Howard Dean stuff. Yes, I'm beginning the transition to an Anybody But Bush site.

You probably know that I'm not a Democrat, but an Independent. I hope that all Independents, Greens, and even Republicans join me in supporting the Democratic Party this year in the most important effort of ridding our nation of the scourge known as George W. Bush.

Please click on the button or donation link and give as generously as you can. I hope you also can find some inspiration in the Dean campaign and harness it: work as hard as you can to take the White House back from the GOP and take our country forward.


PS--I'll get credit for any donation you make. If my readers contribute enough, I can get a phone briefing with Terry Mac--I'd love to give him an earful.

[Update: I've kicked things off with a sustaining donation of $40/month. It doesn't show up in my totals yet, but I will update the tracker when it does, and when other donations are credited.] 

But The Schools Are Open


At Baghdad's Central Teaching Hospital for Children, gallons of raw sewage wash across the floors. The drinking water is contaminated. According to doctors, 80 percent of patients leave with infections they did not have when they arrived.
To be sure, Iraq's hospitals were in bleak shape before the American-led invasion last year. International isolation and the sanctions imposed after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 had already shattered a public health care system that was once the jewel of the Middle East. Crucial machines stopped working. Drugs were in short supply.

Conditions eased a bit once the United Nations oil-for-food program started in 1996, but the country still suffered, especially the children.

But Iraqi doctors say the war has pushed them closer to disaster. Fighting and sabotage have destroyed crucial infrastructure and the fall of Saddam Hussein precipitated a breakdown in social order.

"It's definitely worse now than before the war," said Eman Asim, the Ministry of Health official who oversees the country's 185 public hospitals. "Even at the height of sanctions, when things were miserable, it wasn't as bad as this. At least then someone was in control."

With infrastructure in tatters and violence escalating, can the prowar people please explain to me how this invasion is anything but an unmitigated disaster? And I mean that honestly. Don't give me any "why do you hate America?" or "the Iraqis are now free" or "Saddam's not jailing children" talking points. I want real, thoughtful answers.


[Update: forgot the link to the Times article. Fixed.] 

Free Speech Isn't Free

At least for trolls. I have implemented my first anti-troll action ever and banned two specific IP addresses: and [Update: and now That was the third addy I've seen this troll use, but it was so infrequent I thought I could ignore it. No longer.]. These have been the biggest offenders, and I'm hopeful that I won't need to ban an entire range.

I also deleted a bunch of idiotic posts, so some commenters' reactions to the troll might sound like non sequiturs. This won't completely solve the troll infestation, but it helps a little and certainly made me feel good.

Hopefully our troll friend will get a life, get laid, and stop whoring for BushCo.


Friday, February 13, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

Advertising Karma


CBS has stopped running the Bush administration's publicly funded ad for the new Medicare prescription drug law, pending a review of its content by congressional investigators.

The 30-second ad, titled "Same Medicare. More Benefits," has prompted strong criticism from Democratic lawmakers and a range of interest groups who say it is a barely disguised commercial for President Bush’s re-election campaign.

Democrats asked the General Accounting Office, Congress' investigative arm, to examine whether the administration should be using taxpayer money to air the commercial. And several lawmakers have been lobbying network executives to get them to yank the ad, pending the GAO review.

Reagan bio-pic, MoveOn controversy, Janet's boob, and now problems with the Medicare ad. Poor, poor CBS. Non-existant WMD, AWOL controversy, budget deficits as far as the eye can see, and now problems with the Medicare ad. Poor, poor BushCo.

Media concentration = bad. One party rule = bad. And nothing lasts forever...



Or maybe Heinlein meant Schmidtstone:

Researchers say they have produced hydrogen from ethanol in a prototype reactor small enough and efficient enough to heat small homes and power cars.

The development could help open the way for cleaner-burning technology at home and on the road.

Current methods of producing hydrogen from ethanol require large refineries and copious amounts of fossil fuels, the University of Minnesota researchers said.

The reactor is a relatively tiny 2-foot-high apparatus of tubes and wires that creates hydrogen from corn-based ethanol. A fuel cell, which acts like a battery, then generates power.

"This points to a way to make renewable hydrogen that may be economical and available," said Lanny Schmidt, a chemical engineer who led the study. The work was outlined in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

Too cool for school.


Bush Fulfills His Promise

Credit where credit's due:

President Bush ordered that his Vietnam-era military files be made public, the White House announced Friday, a move that comes amid continued questions on whether he fulfilled his duties as a member of the Air National Guard.

The records to be released would cover his service in the Guard from 1968 to 1973.

Coulda put this whole thing to rest by releasing these things long ago, just like John McCain did...


Karma Sure Sucks

Liberal Coalition contributor and Eschaton guest blogger, Tena, tells us that the Senate's Iraq Probe will include Bush and his aides:

The Senate Intelligence Committee said Thursday that it planned to investigate whether White House officials exaggerated the Iraq threat or pressured analysts to tailor their assessments of Baghdad's weapons programs to bolster the case for war.

President Bush says what? Uh-oh...


Dog Blogging Coincidentally On Friday

Huh? Dog blogging? Yup, there's nothing like a dog when you're super busy and super stressed.

Cairo's favorite activity: digging in the snow (see her in motion in this ~500k MPEG).


Thursday, February 12, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

Dean Lightbulb Jokes

I came up with a few in honor of faithful reader Steve Bates:

Q: How many Howard Deans does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: I don't have the power to screw in a lightbulb, YOU have the power!

Q: How many Howard Deans does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: Unless we replace the dim bulb in the White House who gave us massive deficits, an irresponsible tax cut and two costly wars, we won't be able to afford any more lightbulbs.

Q: How many Howard Deans does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: We won't just screw in one lightbulb! We will screw in lightbulbs in New Hampshire! We will screw in lightbulbs in South Carolina! We will screw in lightbulbs in Arizona and New Mexico, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan! Eyyahh!!!



Wednesday, February 11, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

I Predict... next Bloggers Chess move.


We Fought The Good Fight

Nope, not Deaniacs. Volleyball. Excellent match, long, close, hard-fought games with one of the best teams in the league. We came out on the losing side, but it was really fun.

Each side was short-handed and had to play 4 players. That's much more entertaining than 6 because you have to cover more ground, get more chances for digs, etc. I had some nice gets, several spikes, and a few good blocks. My serve still is more returnable than it used to be, but I was perfect for a change.

Now if only we can continue to play this well and actually close the deal...


And Then There Were Three

As I'm sure you all know by now, Clark's dropping out. Damn.

I wish he could've stayed in until Super Tuesday, or Wisconsin at least. I know it's probably throwing good money after bad, and he might not have any money to throw, but I don't like the idea of any candidate running away with this thing without giving people a chance to really consider their choices. I really dislike this compressed schedule.

The bandwagon effect is dangerous, and all the rapid fire voting just makes it worse. Either create a national primary, or stretch out the contests. The current approach seems to be the worst of both worlds: it amplifies the money advantage and the king-making influence of two very small, unrepresentative states. That strikes me as being undemocratic (but maybe not un-Democratic).

Interesting spin Kerry is putting on yesterday's results:

Once again, the message rings out loud and clear: Americans are voting for change East and West, North and now in the South.

I don't think that's the message people are sending. Memo to Dean and Edwards: please stick around for a while. Looks like Edwards plans on it:

The voters who voted today in the election are saying to the country that we're going to have a campaign and an election, not a coronation.



Tuesday, February 10, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.


Looks like Dean finished above the Sharpton Line in both Tennessee and Virginia despite not campaigning in those states. No delegates, I guess, but it looks like Dean will remain in second place.

On to Wisconsin!


The Press Is Ready To Pounce

Today's press briefing by WH stooge, Scott McClellan:

Q Scott, a couple of questions I have -- the records that you handed out today, and other records that exist, indicate that the President did not perform any Guard duty during the months of December 1972, February or March of 1973. I'm wondering if you can tell us where he was during that period. And also, how is it that he managed to not make the medical requirements to remain on active flight duty status?

MR. McCLELLAN: John, the records that you're pointing to, these records are the payroll records; they're the point summaries. These records verify that he met the requirements necessary to fulfill his duties. These records --

Q That wasn't my question, Scott.

MR. McCLELLAN: These payroll records --

Q Scott, that wasn't my question, and you know it wasn't my question. Where was he in December of '72, February and March of '73? And why did he not fulfill the medical requirements to remain on active flight duty status?

MR. McCLELLAN: These records -- these records I'm holding here clearly document the President fulfilling his duties in the National Guard. The President was proud of his service. The President --

Q I asked a simple question; how about a simple answer?

MR. McCLELLAN: John, if you'll let me address the question, I'm coming to your answer, and I'd like --

Q Well, if you would address it -- maybe you could.

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry, John. But this is an important issue that some chose to raise in the context of an election year, and the facts are important for people to know. And if you don't want to know the facts, that's fine. But I want to share the facts with you.

Q I do want to know the facts, which is why I keep asking the question. And I'll ask it one more time. Where was he in December of '72, February and March of '73? Why didn't he fulfill the medical requirements to remain on active flight duty status in 1972?

I'd quite forgotten what an aggressive press corps was like. Let's see if they pursue this issue as ferociously as they did Clinton's fellatio.

I frankly could care less if Bush did all his time in the TANG. It was Vietnam, and lots of rich kids did what they could to get away with avoiding service in the war. Lots of other people took whatever avenues they could as well.

However, given all the trivial crap the Right tried to hang on Clinton1 throughout his tenure, especially about draft dodging2, I have to say this is certainly just desserts. What's more, this is a President who is running on his alleged national security credentials and has screwed current Guard members. Why should we give him a free pass on this?

What's more, like all the other stonewalling by this administration, from Cheney's energy cabal records to the 9/11 panel to the new intel commission, these people just continue to show utter contempt for government transparency and accountability. The AWOL thing won't win the election for the Dems, but it's another piece of the mosaic: a disturbing picture of evasion, deceit, and outright lying.

And it's nice to see our media finally living up to its responsibility. Here's hoping their newfound resolve lasts...


1 - For the record, I voted for Clinton twice, but don't have any great love for him.

2 - Back in July I blogged about the contrast between Bush's and Clinton's actions during Vietnam. 

Kerry Lightbulb Jokes

Somebody posted some lightbulb jokes in the primary open thread at dKos. My faves, in reverse order of preference (edited for punctuation):

#3 - Q. How many Kerrys does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A. "When I was in Vietnam...."

#2 - Q. How many Kerrys does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A. However many it takes to stand on all sides of the light bulb.

#1 - Q: How many Kerrys does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: One. The Democratic Party won't let you have another choice.

Now before somebody gets on my case about being a Kerry Hater, I am indeed still ABB. Doesn't mean I can't enjoy myself...


Monday, February 09, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

A Report From The ME Caucuses

My friend David gave me an off-the-cuff report about his caucus yesterday:

It was a great experience.

Dennis Kucinich, Congressman Markey (MA) for Kerry, and Howard Dean all spoke.

I am afraid Howard came across pretty bad. He was obviously really tired. He tried to draw parallels to past presidents, most of which the average American could not identify. Warren Harding? Wasn't he the fifth Marx brother? The news cameras did not bother to tape his speech, only the reaction to their rhetorical question, "Do you honestly think you still have a shot at the nomination?"

The Kerry campaign really rubbed me the wrong way. I felt the atmosphere of Tammany Hall. Many of the people organizing the caucus were clearly Kerry supporters. The machine is behind him. The same machine that lost the House and Senate, and failed to win with Gore.

I still have hope, but sense that the easiest path for most voters, a path dictated by the status quo, is to go with the more traditional candidate. In that world a senator - even from Mass - trumps a governor from Vermont.

Indeed, Kerry was trumping Dean 45-26 with 50% of the precincts reporting (and maybe someday the results will be updated CNN now has delegate totals: Kerry 15, Dean got 9). Dean will get yet more delegates out of it all the same...


[Update: I added a break between Dave's overall assessment of the experience and list of who spoke. In response to The Commissar's snark (which I appreciate!). Should capture the intent better.] 

Fun With Fuzzy Math!

The Economic Report of the President (PDF, p.94):

Nonfarm payroll employment fell an average of 50,000 workers per month in the first seven months of 2003, before increasing 35,000 in August, 99,000 in September, and an average of 48,000 per month in the fourth quarter.

Amazing how the administration loves to use averages, on average, when it covers up ugly numbers. Use the averages for the ugly first 7 months of the year, then crow about 2 specific numbers that show growth, then revert back to averages the last 3 months of the year. Why? Because October's increase was 100k (revised down from 126k), November's was 43k (revised down from 57k), and December's was a measely 1k (this was actually revised up to 16k and not taken into account for the ERP). Why use specifics when averages can cover up a downward trend?


Sunday, February 08, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

Rook Laughs At Danger

And makes his next predictable Bloggers Chess move...


A New Hope

An exchange on MTP:

Russert: Will you testify before the commission*?

President Bush: This commission? You know, I don't testify? I will be glad to visit with them. I will be glad to share with them knowledge. I will be glad to make recommendations, if they ask for some.

And here's John Kerry taking the fight to George Bush:

I hope that...President Bush will not only immediately agree to testify before his Intelligence Commission, but will clearly and precisely tell the American people what he knew when he launched the Iraq War and why what he is saying today is so very different.

I still don't like him, but I have more hope that he'll at least be a better candidate and President than Bush. And we all owe Howard Dean a great debt for showing John Kerry the way to fight...


*Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction

Bush Sucked

What a evasive, inarticulate, lying buffoon. Bush's appearance on MTP was awful. But don't take my word for it--here's what the folks at NRO are saying:

President Bush looks like he's afraid of Tim Russert. He's stammering and unsteady. For the first time, I've felt a twinge of fear myself about the November election.
Posted at 09:22 AM

Not to pile on here, but I think lots of eyebrows legitimately raise re: the March 2005 commission deadline. I’m not sure he sufficiently answered that…
Posted at 10:34 AM

Michael, I don't know that it was a disaster. I don't think it helped much, but it probably didn't do much damage either. He sounded defensive on intel and, oddly, he seemed almost removed from his service answer. I'm taking comfort in the fact its Sunday morning and most people were doing something other than watching meet the press. What I always do think is useful is people seeing how heartfelt is his love for this country, for its people, and for freedom. That came across, as it often does when he does sitdowns. But again, all in all, I don't think it was a disaster, by any stretch.

A pundit-type just said to me: "If he loses this year, this will be the day he lost it."
Posted at 11:40 AM

If he loses?


I Remember, But Do You, Mr. President?

More Bush words on MTP:

You remember U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 clearly stated show us your arms and destroy them, or your programs and destroy them. And we said, there are serious consequences if you don't. That was a unanimous verdict. In other words, the worlds of the U.N. Security Council said we're unanimous and you're a danger. So, it wasn't just me and the United States. The world thought he was dangerous and needed to be disarmed.

And, of course, he defied the world once again.

Hmm...Far be it for me to suggest he's pulling one of those Washington tricks where you leave half the equation out, but let's review. First, here's what S/RES 1441 said (PDF):

4. [The UNSC decides] that false statements or omissions in the declarations submitted by Iraq pursuant to this resolution and failure by Iraq at any time to comply with, and cooperate fully in the implementation of, this resolution shall constitute a further material breach of Iraq’s obligations and will be reported to the Council for assessment in accordance with paragraphs 11 and 12 below;
11. Directs the Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC and the Director-General of the IAEA to report immediately to the Council any interference by Iraq with inspection activities, as well as any failure by Iraq to comply with its disarmament obligations, including its obligations regarding inspections under this resolution;

12. Decides to convene immediately upon receipt of a report in accordance with paragraphs 4 or 11 above, in order to consider the situation and the need for full compliance with all of the relevant Council resolutions in order to secure international peace and security;

13. Recalls, in that context, that the Council has repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations;

14. Decides to remain seized of the matter.

In other words, the Security Council would get a report, convene and reserved the right to decide what to do ("remains seized of the matter"). Please also note that UN resolutions use diplomatic language that has extremely specific meanings. 1441's "serious consequences" is a notch lower than "all necessary means", which is the language that authorized force in S/RES 678 (PDF) back in 1990. 1441 allowed for other types of sanctions other than military force, and it was up to the UNSC to determine what those sanctions would be in response to Iraq's transgressions.

Further, we see that Iraq was in fact complying because there were no WMD. Remember, Mr. President, what chief weapons inspector David Kay said?

I don't think [WMD] existed. I think there were stockpiles at the end of the first Gulf War and those were a combination of U.N. inspectors and unilateral Iraqi action got rid of them.

Now you can complain all you want about how hard it is to get good intelligence. It is hard to get it right and easy to get it wrong. It is also easy to invent cause for war, such as the Germans did before invading Poland. This is why Justice Jackson uttered these wise words at Nuremberg:

[W]e must not allow ourselves to be drawn into a trial of the causes of the war, for our position is that no grievances or policies will justify resort to aggressive war. It is utterly renounced and condemned as an instrument of policy.

And the UN Charter - which according to our Constitution is the law of the land - says this in Article 2:

All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state...

All of this is not new. I argued these points before the war, and I think people need to be reminded of just how flagrantly we violated the rules born from the ruin of the most devastating aggressive war the world has ever known.

It is clear that the Bush administration kept screaming about Iraq being an imminent threat (yes trolls, they did use the word "imminent" in addition to every possible synonym and inference) because they wanted to justify their war as "pre-emptive". It is equally clear that this war was "preventive" (i.e., not to pre-empt imminent use of WMD, but to prevent vaporware Weapons of Mass Destruction related program activities from being developed), which is fundamentally an aggressive war and is wholly wrong, even considering the ever-shifting ex post facto justifications.

So Bush left off a few details in his answer. Interestingly enough, a little while later in the interview Bush responded to a question from Tim Russert thusly:

I'm not suggesting you're pulling one of these Washington tricks where you leave half the equation out.

Project much?


[Update: fixed a few minor items that bugged me.] 


I don't think America can stand by and hope for the best from a madman. - George W. Bush on Meet the Press.

Indeed. So can we impeach the madman now, or do we have to wait until November?


Bush On MTP

I'm gonna try to watch it in 11 minutes. Transcript already available, but I won't read it unless I have to turn off the TV in a fit of pique...


How's This For Spin?

Dean maintains hold on second place in Democratic delegate race:

Kerry: 409
Dean: 174
Edwards: 116
Clark: 82

And given how Dean has focused on WI at the expense of MI and WA, he did better than I expected. The latest polls had shown (via Kos):

Kerry 40
Dean 13
Edwards 11
Clark 8

Kerry 62
Dean 13
Edwards 11
Clark 5

And the final results (delegates in parentheses):

Kerry 49 (47)
Dean 30 (29)
Kucinich! 8
Edwards 7
Clark 3

Kerry 52 (91)
Dean 17 (24)
Edwards 13 (6)
Sharpton! 7 (7)
Clark 7

Yes, it looks like Kerry will win just on pure momentum at this point, but he still needs 1700 delegates. On the whole, Dean's remaining more competitive than I expected, and maybe the Wisconsin strategy will pay off. Not very probable, especially since the media has yet to give Kerry the same treatment they slammed Dean with, but still in the realm of possibility. And that's what it's all about, isn't it?


June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 April 2007


Best New Blog finalist - 2003 Koufax Awards

A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.

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